Fonio is a type of ancient grain that is native to West Africa and has been a staple food in the region for thousands of years. It is a highly nutritious grain that is rich in protein, fiber, and a range of essential vitamins and minerals. In recent years, fonio has gained popularity outside of West Africa due to its versatility in the kitchen and its potential health benefits. As a grain, Fonio is small with a slightly nutty flavor and a soft, fluffy texture when cooked. It can be used in a variety of dishes, from traditional West African meals to more modern recipes such as fonio pilaf or fonio porridge. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest, making it a suitable option for people with gluten sensitivities or digestive issues.
How to Grow Fonio Grain
In addition to its taste and versatility, fonio is also highly sustainable to grow. It is a drought-resistant grain that can be grown in a variety of climates and soil types, making it a potential solution to food insecurity in areas facing environmental challenges. Evidently, on the commercial market, there are generally two types of fonio grain, black and white. ‘Hungry rice’ refers to White Fonio in most parts of Europe. This tendency to naturally grow in dry climates without irrigation, makes it unlikely to be a successful crop in humid regions. It grows in light (sandy to stony) soils, and will even grow in poor soil. These characteristics make the natural tropical weather across Africa a fertile ground for cultivating this grain.
Where to Buy Fonio Grain
Undoubtedly, as a superfood, fonio is currently gaining popularity largely due to advancement in its production method, specifically dehusking the grain. There are a couple option to buy fonio, based on where you live. You may be able to find fonio grain at specialty grocery stores or international markets that carry African or gluten-free products. It may also be available at natural food stores or online through retailers that specialize in exotic or hard-to-find ingredients. Here are a the best Fonio brands online.
How to Cook Fonio Grain
Fonio is a versatile grain that can be cooked in a variety of ways. Here is a simple recipe for cooking fonio (plain):
- Rinse 1 cup of fonio in a fine mesh strainer under cold running water until the water runs clear.
- In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the rinsed fonio and reduce the heat to low. Cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the fonio is cooked.
- Fluff the fonio with a fork and serve as a side dish or use it as a base for a grain bowl. Fonio can also be used in place of rice or quinoa in pilafs or salads.
For a more flavourful fonio, try adding spices or herbs to the cooking water, or sautéing the fonio in a pan with oil or butter before adding the water. You can also try adding diced vegetables or cooked protein to the fonio for a complete meal.
Fonio has a broad nutritional profile. It is naturally gluten free and replaces traditional ingredients in cooking and baking sweet and savoury meals.According to healthline, it is also naturally low in cholesterol, sodium, and fat. 1/4 cup (45 grams) of dry fonio — approximately 1/2 cup of cooked fonio contains the following nutritional value:
- Calories: 170
- Protein: 2 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
- Fat: 0.5 grams
- Carbs: 39 grams
- Fiber: 4% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Iron: 4% of the DV
Fonio is also a good source of B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, which are necessary for the growth, development, and function of cells. It also fits perfectly into a vegan, paleo or gluten-free with major health benefits such as:
- The body slowly absorbs fonio. It doesn’t cause spikes in the blood sugar levels that other refined grains do. The grain also contains sulphur, chromium and amino acids that help to control diabetes.
- It has a very high fibre content and is easier to digest than other grains.
- It has a low glycemic index and a high fibre content. Therefore, it can be a useful part of a long-term weight loss plan. It is filling and steadily releases energy to quench food cravings.
- It is a very good source of calcium and can aid in maintaining strong bones and teeth. This makes it an ideal ingredient for a kid’s diet.
8 Delicious Fonio Recipes
These are some of the best Fonio recipes from food blogger on instagram.
In conclusion, fonio is a nutritious and versatile grain that has been enjoyed in West Africa for thousands of years. It is rich in protein, fiber, and a range of essential vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy addition to any diet. Its slightly nutty flavor and soft, fluffy texture make it a great choice for a variety of dishes, from traditional West African meals to modern recipes like fonio pilaf or grain bowls. Fonio is also gluten-free and easy to digest, making it suitable for people with gluten sensitivities or digestive issues. In addition, fonio is highly sustainable to grow, making it a potential solution to food insecurity in areas facing environmental challenges. Overall, fonio is a grain that is worth trying for its taste, versatility, and potential health and sustainability benefits.